Our Weird World: Blackbeard and The Money Pit
Anyone who didn’t already know who Blackbeard was most likely knows now, oweing partly to the newest installment of the Pirates of the Carribbean films. I haven’t seen that one yet, but I do know that North Carolina’s favorite pirate, Blackbeard, plays a huge role as the antagonist.
While that movie was based on a novel and entirely fictional, the real Blackbeard was no less a character. The name he used more often was Edward Teach, and the man loved him some North Carolina. It has been reported that Ocracoke Island, a quiet place in NC’s Outer Banks (and quite nice if you just want a truly relaxing vacation) was a favored hangout of the famed pirate, when he wasn’t raiding things. You can read more about his life at his Wikiepedia page, though I’ll give you one spoiler. He was killed in a battle with Robert Maynard, after which his head was removed and hung from the bowsprit of Maynard’s ship. Teach was estimated to be around 35 or 40 years old
Now, Edward Teach’s life as the pirate Blackbeard certainly is interesting, but enough of pillaging and living the high life on another’s dime. What really grabs my attention are the mysteries surrounding his life. Who was he?
And where’s that treasure he talked about?
Blackbeard’s used name may have been Edward Teach, but what I didn’t know before was that it probably was not at any point his real name. That was common among pirates back then, because family names were quite important and using a false name would avoid any reputational harm to family members.
Some have suggested that his real name was Edward Drummond, but there’s not a lot of evidence to support this. The theory is that he was originally from Bristol England, but that’s just an assumption. As you probably know, no one came forward to claim the body after the death, or even inquire, as it was disposed of in the water. The true identity of Edward Teach remains a mystery to this day. He seems to have been from no place at all.
Now, what would any of this have to do with Canada, or more specifically, Nova Scotia?
I’m glad you asked.
Pirates were not generally known to have buried any treasure to come back later. Usually, what they did gain was spent on booze and women. A notable exception is William Kidd. I’ll link back to him later. Blackbeard was quoted as saying that his treasure had been hidden “where none but Satan and myself can find it.”
Oak Island, in Nova Scotia, is a quiet place, owned but basically empty because it lies so low in the water (only about 35 feet above it, actually.) There’s lots of trees there and one very interesting feature.
The Money Pit.
When he found it in 1795, Daniel McGinnis had no idea what he and his friends were beginning. He’d seen lights flickering there at night, and was drawn by his curiosity to check the place out. What they found was an apparently manmade hole, and began to dig, at first finding just markings and some flagstones. The deeper they went, the more interesting things got. Every ten feet, someone had put a layer of logs. After reaching a level of 30 feet, they stopped. Since then, people have repeatedly searched and excavated and searched the hole more. It keeps flooding and humans keep going back. They’ve found stuff, artifacts and things. But no one wants an old vase, not really.
What gets their attention is the inscription found about 90 feet down, which was supposedly translated as “forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.” That was in the 1800s.
Two million pounds.
People keep going back. Maybe now they are looking for old vases. Actually, they are, some of them, because Canada’s been there longer than it was ever called that. Treasure would be nice, though.
Captain Kidd and Edward Teach are both supposed to have buried something there, according to theories. And so far no one has, as he promised, found Blackbeard’s treasure.
So what’s down there?
Did he know something we don’t?
Who was Edward Teach, and what did he hide?
I suspect the answer’s worth more than two million pounds.